Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chronic Fatigue

We all know what feeling tired is like – it can happen after a long day at work or strenuous physical activity. Tiredness is the body’s natural reaction to any kind of exertion. As a result, we must allow our bodies time to rest in order to allow it the capability to function as normal and perform new duties. However, if you are feeling tired after very little activity, if it is constant, and is not relieved by rest, you may suffer from something called Chronic Fatigue.

Chronic fatigue, a diagnosis that was once dubious amongst those in the medial field, is now being accepted as a true medical disorder, with just under 400,000 Canadians having been diagnosed. It typically affects individuals over the age of 40, with the majority of chronic fatigue sufferers being women. Certain viral infections such as the Epstein-Barr virus, hypotension (low blood pressure), a weakened immune system and hormonal imbalances have all been suspected to play a part in the diagnosis of chronic fatigue, but there has been no direct link between them. With no current cure for chronic fatigue, treatment is focused solely on the symptoms that are presented by the patient. 

Below are some common symptoms of chronic fatigue:

Excessive tiredness (lasting longer than 24 hours)
Mental exhaustion
Inability to focus/concentrate
Memory loss
Muscle pain

It is also important to rule out any other potential causes of your tiredness, as there are other conditions with symptoms that mimic those of chronic fatigue such as Lyme disease, lupus, mononucleosis, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia and even depression.

Perhaps the most important thing one can do to relieve symptoms associated to chronic fatigue is by making lifestyle changes, something Dr. Ali Ghahary already recommends to his patients under many different circumstances and for certain health conditions. These lifestyle changes include making dietary changes, and limiting or all together eliminating intake of caffeinated beverages such as coffee and sodas (doing so well help you get a better night’s rest.) You should also limit your use of nicotine and alcohol, and ensure that you are not overexerting yourself during the day, especially when involved in any physical activity. It may also be a good idea to work with a trainer or physical therapist to help you with an easy exercise routine. Alternative medicine such as acupuncture, yoga and massage therapy have also been found to be constructive for chronic fatigue sufferers, but you should always check with your physician beforehand.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Symptoms and Treatment for Insomnia

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects 3.3 million Canadians aged 15 or older, and with 18% of sufferers reporting they get less than 5 hours of sleep each night. It can be a short-term or ongoing condition. Studies have shown that insomnia affects more women than men, and it is also linked to individuals who are middle-aged, as well as those who suffer from chronic pain, stress and obesity.

In acute cases, insomnia is typically brought on by stress, certain pressures in life, or traumatic events, and can last for days or weeks at a time. In chronic cases, insomnia can last up to a month or longer, and is oftentimes a secondary symptom of other health problems, sleep disorders, or substances in the body such as certain prescription medications, alcohol, or even caffeinated beverages and tobacco – which effects can last as long as 8 hours. If left untreated, insomnia can cause a severe lack of energy, irritability, and even depression and anxiety. Other symptoms of insomnia include poor concentration, muscle aches and a decreased level of alertness.

There are some simple habits that Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests in order to avoid potential sleep disruptions – these include listening to calming music to relax, limiting your use of any distractions such as television or computers, not eating any heavy meals at least 5 to 6 hours before bedtime, as well as setting a sleep schedule. Other non-medical treatments for insomnia that may be beneficial include attending cognitive behavioural therapy session (which is great for relieving stress and anxiety), meditation, and stimulus. If those are unsuccessful, medications such as benzodiazepine hypnotics and melatonin receptor agents may be prescribed, but it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of these types of medications with your physician.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Many Benefits of Exercise

Along with promoting healthy eating, Dr. Ali Ghahary is a strong advocate of patients also introducing regular physical activity into their daily routines. The rewards of exercise can be obtained regardless of your age, gender, or physical ability. Below are some of the positives of fitness.

Prevent Weight Gain / Maintain Weight Loss
This is one of the most common reasons why Canadian adults choose to introduce regular physical activities into their routines, especially with obesity on the rise in Canada. By engaging in physical activity, you burn calories, which in turn reduces body fat and builds muscle. Physical activity can be done by working out at a gym, going for brisk walks, participating in yoga classes, and even swimming. It is important to choose something that you like doing so that you can stick with it.

Reduces Pain
As we age, bone loss occurs which can result in back pain. Regular physical activity does not only help reduce pain and lessen the risk of osteoporosis, but it also increases muscle strength, endurance, and helps improve your posture and flexibility.

Improves Mood / Alleviates Anxiety
In addition to helping with weight loss, regular fitness and exercise also helps to improve the mood. Partaking in moderate to high intensity exercise helps stimulates the brain cells and provides you with emotional stability, relieves stress and anxiety, and boosts your confidence. You will be left feeling happier and relaxed as a result.

Lessens the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Exercise helps to raise the HDL levels (also known as the “good” cholesterol) and decreases LDL levels (the bad cholesterol.) It also strengthens the heart muscle and increases the working capacity of your heart. As a result, this lessens your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Boosts Energy
In addition to helping your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, exercise has also been proven to be beneficial in boosting your energy as it delivers oxygen and important nutrients to your tissues.

Whether you are a student studying, need to get an important task at work completed, or simply want better concentration, exercise produces new brain cells (also known as neurogenesis) which helps to boost the brain’s performance. As a result, you are able to get more done.

Lastly, while it can sometimes be difficult to get motivated, exercise doesn’t have to be something that is thought of as a chore, but can instead be thought of as something that is fun. There are many different types of exercise and ways you can go about it – from working out in a gym, enjoying the outdoors by going on a bike ride, or playing your favourite sport.

It is important to note that strenuous physical activity is not needed in order to reap the benefits. Something as simple as a 30-minute workout can prove to be beneficial for your overall health.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Differentiating Between Types of Headaches and How to Treat Them

We’ve all experienced a headache at least once in our lives – they are a common complaint for many individuals and are triggered by various lifestyle factors including everything from changes to your diet, lack of sleep, overworking, poor posture, stress, and noise. However, not all headaches are alike. In this article we will look at the different types of headaches that can be experienced, how to differentiate between them and their symptoms, and how they can be treated.

Perhaps the most severe form of a headache is one that develops into a migraine. Affecting an estimated 3 million Canadians, with 3 out of 4 sufferers being female as well as 5% of children under the age of 18, a migraine is a headache in which the blood vessels in the brain become constricted and release inflammatory substances, causing extreme discomfort as a result. Migraines can last as long as 72 hours, with some individuals suffering from migraines on a weekly, persistent basis, and they are usually described as pulsating or throbbing pain. Prior to onset of a migraine, one might experience aura – seeing bright lights, lines, or dots. In addition, a migraine is generally accompanied with sensitivity to light, sounds and smells, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and fatigue. In rare cases a fever may also be present. They are also certain triggers that may lead up to a migraine, including the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, hormonal components and changes in one’s sleeping pattern. It is important to recognize these triggers and make applicable changes, as avoiding them may lessen the frequency and severity of your symptoms.

A tension-type headache (TTH), also commonly known as a muscle contraction headache, is the most common kind of headache that one might experience. Tension-type headaches affect 4 out of every 100 Canadians, and are described as a dull, aching pain, a feeling of tightness or pressure around the forehead and back of the head, or tenderness on your shoulder muscles, neck and scalp. While a tension headache can be hard to differentiate from a migraine, they are not usually associated with migraine symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or visual disturbances. Tension headaches are generally developed into two categories: Episodic and Chronic. An episodic tension headache can last as short as 30 minutes to a whole week, but usually occur less than 15 days a month, whereas chronic tension headaches may be continuous and occur more frequently.

The treatment of both migraine and tension headaches is fully dependent on the symptoms experienced by the patient, as well as the history. Pain relievers such as Ibuprofen (Advil) taken as soon as you notice the onset of symptoms may relieve the discomfort of mild headaches; stress management is also beneficial. For those suffering from severe migraines, Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests the use of medications called Cambia or Relpax – drugs that are specifically used in the treatment of migraine headaches.